V, Venetian/Void

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating Venetian cutwork and voided embroidery and motifs starting with the letter 'V'. Part of a 34-part embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007.

Content description

This is a four-sided book worked mostly in Venetian cutwork and and voided embroidery, featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'V'. The first page, on the left, has three slips on a pale green silk ground. The first has vine leaves created using dark green silk running stitches on linen. The second is a single vine leaf in yellow silk with just the outline shape of the leaf voided. The shape is made out of running stitches. The third has a bunch of grapes motif with the purple, coloured ground worked in cross and back stitches. There are a group of squares picked out in back stitches to symbolise the individual grapes. The second page features a scrolling letter 'V' on a dark green synthetic ground. The letter is white appliquéd loose weave linen edged with buttonhole stitch in cotton and the surface is covered with a couched trellis. Between the letter form are buttonhole bars.

On the other side is a page a loose weave linen slip on a pale green silk ground. The slip has two vipers in voided embroidery with green V motifs to represent their markings. The edge of the vipers are bordered with green back stitches. The background is covered in black and gold cross stitches at the top and single faggot stitch at the bottom where a dark green underlying fabric can be seen through the holes. There is an outer border of honeycomb filling stitch in dark green and brown cotton thread. The final page has a black synthetic ground with a single motif, a large tree with vine leaves. The tree and leaves are made of green linen, with the edges of the each shape decorated with buttonhole stitches. All of the embroidery is done in silk thread. Each leaf has three veins worked in stem stitch. Green wrapped threads run between the leaves and tree.

This booklet is one of 34 parts of an embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007. Elliott embroidered a large box which houses 32 four-sided booklets. Each booklet focuses one on letter of the alphabet and embroidery technique whose first letter matches that letter of the alphabet (A for appliqué, B for blackwork, etc.). Some letters have multiple booklets due to having multiple techniques. This large and impressive group of objects was made by Dr Isabel Margaret Elliott (1931-2016). She received her PhD from Cambridge in 1958 and became a paleobotanist at the Natural History Museum in London. It is clear that her love of science and the natural world influenced her embroidery. When she married her husband, Isabel was made to leave her job (as the Natural History Museum was then part of the civil service and married women were not allowed to be part of the civil service). She began to attend classes at the RSN after meeting a woman embroidering for a class run by that organisation. After the RSN she joined the Embroiderers' Guild. She became a Life Member of the Guild and gained her City & Guilds, which enabled her to teach. She was Mistress of Embroidery at Gloucester Cathedral and was a travelling tutor throughout the UK. Elliott produced an immense amount of embroidery, much of which is available to view at


width: 61cm
height: 23cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number

Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework